The Problem With File Sharing

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Is there one? I’m sure if you look deep enough into it there will be some aspect that is negative. I’m also pretty sure that you can find a negative aspect about almost anything if you go into it deep enough. However, there are also some great things that come out of file sharing. Now when I say “file sharing” I’m meaning more than just downloading something for free from the internet. I’m also talking about when you burn a CD for a friend, or import the album your friend bought into your iTunes. File sharing extends past torrenting, and it has been going on for over a decade. Now that it’s been defined, can you say you’ve honestly never done it before? I feel it’s something everyone has done, even if it wasn’t malicious. There are for sure great outcomes for doing things like this, but also there are the occasional negative effects.


A positive outcome is easily spreading the word. If I haven’t an artist before, I wouldn’t really be ready to drop money on them. However, if I am able to get the album for free some way and listen to it to decide if I like it, I would end up buying other albums or seeing them live. Also, there have been times where I have torrented a movie only to go see it in theaters later with some friends. Or even download it after seeing it in theaters. This can bring up another issue, availability. Sometimes the film isn’t available in our area and was a limited release. Other times, the movie is much too old and can’t be found anywhere to rent. There’s also TV shows people don’t have available, that they wish to download and later end up buying the DVD or Bluray set when it’s released. Apparently, these things happen often, and the people who tend to torrent are the same ones who go to the theater, concert, or buy the show of DVD. This is clearly a good outcome, and according to this article artists have been making more money in this day and age than past ones. And apparently in the end it benefits the movie industry as well!

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A negative outcome is clearly the fact that it is technically stealing. My brother, a musical artist, makes most of his living from the money he makes off his music. If you were to simply just take one album of his and spread it around for free, there is a better chance he won’t see the monetary side of that. Being in a band that is more local than it is worldwide is something that factors into this. He and his band spend their own money on getting an album mixed, not a record label. The money that they charge a CD of theirs is strictly to try and get back some of the cost of the engineer and studio time. Even then, just like most musical artists, they would need to sell thousands to get back the money spent on that time. Of course you can argue that this would help spread word of mouth, and their demand would increase for other venues and they would make more money from that. The problem with that is that most likely the “word of mouth” spread would stay in the local area, and at best they may just receive more attendance at their local shows. An independent band like his would hurt a lot more from file sharing than, lets say Metallica. 

*some obscene language*

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Do I file share? Yes. Very often. Is it bad that I never feel bad about it? I see more movies in theaters in a year than some do at home in a year. I even drive 4 hours to Chicago to see movies in the real IMAX theater on the Navy Pier. I even torrent comics to read them digitally, only to buy them from my local shop at the end of the week when I have the time and money. I’m not saying that I’m a better person because of this, I am just saying that I don’t steal these products simply because I don’t want to pay for them. Usually it is a lack of availability, and sometimes it is just plain convenience. Do I deserve to do jail time because of this? Obviously I would say no. As with most things, do the positives outweigh the negatives? For me, I would say yes, and at the same time I don’t think people should be serving hard time for file sharing.

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